One of the first things I had to realize about living in Spain was that a siesta isn’t a nap or a three hour break. The siesta is an entire way of life. It’s a culture of fiesta/siesta or party/rest…..repeat. Work may or may not get thrown into the cycle depending on the mood of the day. The siesta tradition started out as a way to give laborers a mid-day reprieve from the blistering summer sun. It has now evolved into a cultural instinct for relaxation and enjoyment of life.
When you are raised, as I was in a bigger city, especially in the states, you become very acclimated to getting what you want, when you want it, with some dopey adolescent grinning ear to ear at the pure pleasure of serving you. The fast food society of ‘gimme’ has become so entrenched in our collective psyche, that if I can’t have it MY WAY, with cheese, no onions, mayo, and ketchup then I just may have a mental meltdown. Things do not work this way in Spain though. At All.
I received a crash course in this new lifestyle when arriving in Madrid after six full days of very chaotic traveling to find the entire city was shut down for some obscure fiesta. For four days. The entire city! After finally arriving in Cadiar, the quiet, white washed little village in which we now live, I finally inquired about the mail since it had been two weeks without us having received any. I was told that the post office usually does not deliver the mail, not unless one of the three employees has had too much coffee and feels spunky. I was told that I have to go pick up my own mail, but.. and here’s the kicker, only between 10:45 and 11:00am. Any other time and they will just ignore you until you go away. When I asked if it was open on Saturday I was told, and I’m not kidding, that it depends entirely on Paco’s hangover. Paco it seems is usually too hung over on Saturday.
It’s the same with the big companies here as well. If you happen to be on the phone at 2:00pm you will hear a dial tone at 2:01. After ordering and paying for the phone lines and internet, they took an entire month to actually send someone out to do the installation. Ten minutes into what would be a half-hour job, the serviceman took a forty-five minute cigarette break. Tibetan Buddhist monks have nothing on Spanish utility workers in the relaxation and peace department . It’s like the entire country works the midnight shift in a xanax production plant. The average American D.M.V bureaucrat would have to slip into a coma to fit in here.
I’ve been stuck in traffic behind a mule who’s rider has stopped in the middle of the ‘street’ to talk to an old woman leaning over her terrace. Why in the world would he hurry to get out of the way of a line of five cars? He may not get to talk to her for another two or three hours! Nobody in the cars seem to mind either, why would they?
As frustrating as it is at first you quickly begin to understand that it’s the only sane way to live. You begin to realize that 95% of the things that we get all stressed out about have absolutely nothing to do with living. High blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes are almost non existent in this village. So we all need to relax, take a three hour lunch, maybe enjoy a five hour dinner, because as the Jamaican’s say “tomorrow soon come.” As for me I still try to keep busy, still improving my Spanish, still writing my book, still writing a blo…..Oh fuck it, it’s time for a siesta…